Jeremy Piven Defends Chris Rock After Will Smith Oscar Altercation
“Extra’s” Katie Krause spoke with Jeremy Piven at the 2022 Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party, where he reacted to Chris Rock and Will Smith’s altercation at the Academy Awards.
Earlier in the night, Will went onstage and slapped Chris, who had poked fun at Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, saying he was looking forward to “G.I Jane 2.”
Piven said, “If you remember, Chris hosted the Oscars and brilliantly… I just remember it was just kind of like better than anyone, and Chris is a comic genius that has been doing it for many decades and the premise being that these, indeed, are jokes.”
Following the shocking smack, Will took the stage to accept the award for Best Actor for his work as Richard Williams in “King Richard.”
During Will’s acceptance speech, he noted, “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world. I’m being called on in my life to love people and protect people and be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse, you have to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you have to have people disrespecting you and you have to smile and pretend like that is okay."
Will called himself a “vessel for love,” he added, “I want to be an ambassador for that kind of love and care and concern.”
“I thought the whole night was miraculous because Will did his thing and then got up there and accepted the award and then explained himself beautifully,” Piven commented. “It was all just some sort of miracle. It also felt like I was on mushrooms watching it. I was like, ‘Is this happening?’”
When asked if comedians should ever worry about needing to censor themselves, Piven answered, “Chris is one of those comics that he and [Dave] Chappelle are the GOATs and they’re like the youngest, oldest comics… They’ve been doing it since they were kids. I think… The contract you set up with the audience is that these are,, indeed jokes and we have to embrace our freedom of speech.”
While Piven hasn’t reached out to his friend Chris, he said, “I can’t wait to talk to him.”
Smith certainly seemed over it at the Vanity Fair party, where he reportedly danced the night away as he celebrated his Best Actor win for “King Richard.”
Variety reports Smith hit the dance floor with his entourage and his Academy Award as he danced to his ‘90s hits like “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It” and “Miami.”
It was hard to imagine that he had taken a swing at Chris just hours earlier, shouting expletives from his seat.
As for being at Elton’s party, Jeremy commented, “I feel like Elton John’s been doing it forever.”
“I was 50 when he started so I’m 83 now,” Jeremy joked. “I put myself in a cryogenic tank… and then I come out and make these appearances.”
Jeremy also opened up about breaking eight ribs, saying, “I am okay. I was filming a movie with my sister Shira Piven, who directed it in Slovakia.”
Despite the painful injury, Piven pushed through to finish shooting. As part of the recovery process, he used “hyperbaric chambers and LED lights.”
Bringing attention to the Russian war against Ukraine, Jeremy shared, “We had some Ukrainian refugees that we hired as extras and it was moving, it was heavy.”
Jeremy praised the refugees, saying, “It was just incredible to be around them because they were really strong and positive somehow when they fled their country.”